Every year, a group of top poker professionals and personalities get together and participate in the world’s most famous fantasy poker competition – the ESPN Fantasy Poker League. This year, the league, which was invite-only, featured 12 participants including Daniel Negreanu, Dennis Phillips, Eric Baldwin, Andrew Feldman, Gary Wise, Howard Lederer, Lance Bradley, Bernard Lee, Mark Seif, Gavin Smith, Chops from WickedChopsPoker, and Chad Holloway of Poker Pro Magazine and PokerNews. In the end, it was Holloway who emerged victorious and took down the 2010 ESPN Fantasy Poker title.
In Fantasy Poker, players draft a team of professional poker players who compete in a series of tournaments and earn points based upon their finish or money earned. Whichever team earns the most points at the end wins the competition. In the case of the ESPN Fantasy Poker League, the World Series of Poker is used as the performance backdrop. The draft itself was a snake draft, meaning the person with the last pick in a round received the first pick in the next round. With 12 teams and eight rounds, 96 of the top poker professionals were selected and graded upon the following scoring system:
ESPN Fantasy League Scoring
- 1 point for making the money
- 2 points for making the top 50
- 5 points for making the top 20
- 10 points for making the final table (up to a tournament with a field size of 100 players) then one additional point for each 100 players after that, then:
- 1 additional point for ninth
- 2 additional points for eighth
- 4 additional points for seventh
- 6 additional points for sixth
- 10 additional points for fifth
- 15 additional points for fourth
- 20 additional points for third
- 30 additional points for second
- 40 additional points for first
* Double points awarded for all events with buy-ins of $10,000 or more.
The draft was held prior to this year's past WSOP where some additional rules were ironed out including the option to add/drop a single player during the WSOP. Shown below are the results of the draft with the participants listed in order of the the draft followed by their picks, as well as how many points those picks earned. If two players are listed, it means the former was dropped and replaced by the latter.
Chops: Phil Ivey (63), Carlos Mortenson (69), David Benyamine (2), Faraz Jaka (59), Brock Parker (61), Abe Moussari (64), Thomas Marchese (53), Josh Arieh (3)
Negreanu: Daniel Negreanu (31), Scotty Nguyen (16), David Chiu (134), Justin Smith (22), Todd Brunson (25), Freddy Deeb/Steve Billirakis (97), Brett Richey (16), John Monnette (16)
Feldman: Jason Mercier (30), Bertrand Grospellier (17), Chau Giang (17), Scott Seiver (45), David Pham (0), Alexander Kostritsyn (96), David Sands (51), Ryan D’Angelo/Vladimir Shchemelev (35)
Wise: Allen Cunningham (2), Daniel Alaei (162), Andy Bloch (19), Eli Elezra (11), Isaac Haxton (21), Tom Schneider (7), Nick Schulman (46), Vitaly Lunkin (16)
Lederer: Barry Greenstein (11), John Juanda (223), Robert Mizrachi (125), Chad Brown (40), Matt Glantz (65), Amnon Filippi (6), Ralph Perry (0), Thor Hansen (0)
Phillips: Erick Lindgren (28), Jeffrey Lisandro (41), JC Tran (16), David Singer (15), Brandon Cantu (11), Greg Mueller (8), John Phan (1), Nam Le (14)
Seif: Tom Dwan (97), Phil Galfond (2), Ted Forrest (8), Doyle Brunson (0), Jennifer Harman (102), Johnny Chan (2), Mark Seif/Greg Raymer (3), Eric Froelich (2)
Bradley: Erik Seidel (85), Howard Lederer (0), Chris Bjorin (6), Yevgeniy Timoshenko (6), Patrik Antonius/David Baker (132), Kenny Tran (0), Andrew Litchenberger (0), Dan Kelly (117)
Lee: Chris Ferguson (12), Michael Binger (11), Paul Wasicka (1), Eric Baldwin (29), Max Pescatori (11), Dwyte Pilgrim (32), Roland De Wolfe (0), Jonathan Little (46)
Baldwin: Scott Clements (25), Matt Hawrilenko (0), Justin Bonomo (17), James Mackey (0), Shannon Shorr (13), Justin Young (10), James Van Alstyne (8), Michael Katz (1)
Smith: Huck Seed (14), Gavin Smith (80), Jeff Madsen (9), Steve Sung (0), Bryan Devonshire (2), David Oppenheim (76), Chris Bell (70), Vivek Rajkumar (19)
Holloway (Team Poker Pro): Phil Hellmuth (56), Sorel Mizzi (36), Mike Matusow (9), Annette Obrestad (13), David Williams (6), Jason Somerville (149), Phil Laak/Michael Mizrachi (277), Amit Makhija (50)
While competition was stiff between Bradley, Negreanu, Holloway, Chops, and Lederer, it was Holloway’s drop of Phil “Unabomber” Laak in favor of the Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi that put him over the top. While Holloway did not have Mizrachi on his roster during the $50,000 Players Championship, he picked him up shortly thereafter; in fact, it was the Grinder's performance in the Main Event that propelled Holloway to the win. Listed below are the final standings of the 2010 ESPN Fantasy Poker League:
In regard to his victory, Holloway said: “I was very excited to be invited to participate in the ESPN Fantasy Poker league. The league is the most famous in the world with some of the toughest competition and I was looking forward to the challenge. I’d been writing fantasy poker material for quite some time and was just hoping to place somewhere in the middle of the pack. I surpassed all my expectations by winning it all and feel the win validates my fantasy poker knowledge. Turns out I actually know what I'm talking about.”
The ESPN Fantasy Poker League will return next summer for the 2011 WSOP. In the meantime, you can explore other great fantasy options by visiting the poker section over at ESPN.com.
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